By Susanna Baird
When you are a parent, your child is the only child of her kind in the universe. The pitch of her belly laugh, the thrust of her chin when she’s angry, the words she uses to say goodbye before slinging her backpack over her left shoulder and running into school … these are her things, the just-her things that you know because she’s yours, that make her Not Like Anyone Else.
But also, when you become a parent every child in the universe is your child. That baby squalling sounds just like mine sounded when she was teething. And this little one here, always with the sparkles … just like my girl. That child could be my child. That parent could be me.
I didn’t know Rebecca and I do not know her father Eric Meyer except via Dribbble and his blog, beautifully written and heartbreaking to read. When I found out Rebecca had died Saturday, on her sixth birthday, after months of battling cancer, I felt a sharp slash of grief and terrible empathy, and at the same time understood how much Rebecca was not my child. Eric is not me. Eric knows the just-Rebecca things that made her Not Like Anyone Else and he will miss them for the rest of his life.
And still, I want to add my voice to the grieving. I am a mother, and I have a daughter. Surely there is something in my six-year-old girl that Eric and Kat Meyer would recognize as their Rebecca. Surely there was something in their six-year-old girl that Rich and I would recognize as our Annalise. I am not feeling what they are feeling, but I sense how deep it sits, and how much it tears.
Because there is nothing that will change this, because it’s the only thing left to do, I add my condolences and grief and anger and love to the mix. If you’d like to do the same, create a shot celebrating Rebecca and her favorite color, purple (#663399), then tweet it today using the hashtag #663399becca. Spend a moment at Rebecca’s Flickr gallery. Make a donation in her memory to the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House or the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Send Eric and his wife Kat a note. Hug your child.